How to implement policy: Commonwealth’s updated guide

The Commonwealth’s handy guide on policy implementation has been updated by the National Audit Office. Does your program meet the criteria?

Successful Implementation of Policy Initiatives

Successful Implementation of Policy Initiatives

A revised and updated version of the Better Practice Guide: Successful Implementation of Policy Initiatives was released on Wednesday by the Australian National Audit Office in collaboration with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The guide, first released in 2006, has been updated “to incorporate key developments since that time”. The idea behind the publication is to draw on practical experience in implementing policy to provide examples of better practice to help in the realisation of program objectives. It has been written to be applicable to both senior leaders and those at the coalface of implementation.

The challenges of successful policy implementation have been highlighted in recent years in ANAO reports on initiatives such as the Home Insulation Program, the Air Warfare Destroyer Program, and the Green Loans Program.

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  • This Better Practice Guide and an excellent and timely addition to the tools available for public sector leaders and managers.

    Whilemy financial focus might take me to the costings of new policy, I recognise that successful policy development and implementation is more than just building a budget. It is important to recognise that the key budget assumptions all reside within the detail of the implementation planning. The more information captured at the beginning of the process and set out as key assumptions, the better the monitoring of actual expenses against a budget. A stronger focus on actual to budget analysis with explanations will be
    required in future financial reporting by entities.

    Clarityabout outcomes and objectives and how elements of policy, while delivered through different programmes, may all contribute to shared outcomes and objectives is also a key element of effective implementation. Whole-of-Government and National responses are increasingly required for the more complex public policy questions we face.

    The very strong focus on risk management and performance reporting and KPIs is very pleasing to see. This guidance complements the Commonwealth’s Risk Management Policy, launched in July this year, and the recent Department of Finance Discussion Paper Enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework. We will see further developments on risk management, internal control and KPIs as the full effects of the PGPA Act come into effect over the next year.